Socceroo's 'fantastic' Champions League journey

EXCLUSIVE: Socceroo James Holland is remaining positive despite experiencing a difficult season with his club side Austria Vienna both domestically and in the Champions League.

After taking out the Austrian Bundesliga title last season, expectations were high at the Franz Horr Stadium but so far the club has struggled at home and in Europe.

At the halfway point the Violets currently sit in fourth position in the Bundesliga, 11 points behind league leaders SV Salzburg, while in Europe it has yet to win a game after five matches.

“It’s been a bit up and down,” Holland admits.

“The Champions League has been a fantastic experience. We’ve been a little bit inconsistent. My form’s been a little bit inconsistent but of late I’ve been performing a little bit better.

“Coming off the season we had last season, obviously we’ve got that expectation which makes it all the more harder. But it’s exciting. It’s been good.”

Holland joined Austria Vienna in January 2012 after a very tough three-spell with AZ Alkmaar where he was frozen out of the first-team. His first full season with the Austrian giants was a fairytale one - capturing the title and making 34 appearances.

This season the 24-year old midfielder has made 22 appearances, featuring in all five of Austria Vienna’s Champions League matches, and was sent off in the 3-0 win over Winer Neustadt.

In Europe the Violets are bottom of Group G - after draws with Zenit St Petersburg and Porto, along with a 1-0 loss to the Portuguese club and back-to-back defeats at the hands of Atletico Madrid - and cannot reach the next round with one match left to play.

Making his debut in Europe’s premier competition, Holland has found the Champions League hard but ultimately enjoyable.

“It’s been frustrating,” he said.

“Obviously when you play in your competition you can dominate it but in the Champions League it’s the complete opposite. At the same time we’ve competed in and done quite well in a few of the games.

“We were unlucky not to get a result in a few of the games. All in all it’s been a fantastic experience.”

After making his debut for the Socceroos in 2008, Holland is expected to be right in the frame for Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the World Cup next June. The former Newcastle Jet may also have a new European club next season if the right opportunity comes up.

“Obviously playing regularly is a bonus, it’s a good thing,” Holland said.

“It’s something I learnt to appreciate but I’m almost ready for that next step. You know. I’ve just got my head down and working hard, if the right thing comes along it comes along.

“In the meantime I’m not really stressing about it. I’m just making sure I’m doing my job and working hard.”